I bet you have someone like this in your family. You know, that one person the whole family informally looks to and looks up to. The one who appears to be the rock, the anchor in turbulence and maybe even the first in the conga line at family get-togethers. That was my Uncle Bob. He owned a cabinet shop and it seems at some point everyone in the family worked there. I think Uncle Bob carried a heavy burden to make sure our whole family was cared for, even though he was never formally given that role.
It was exceptionally hard when I heard this past week that he had passed away. I headed down for the memorial service and had the privilege to share many of my thoughts and recollections with those gathered to mourn and celebrate his life. He was a leader worth following in the truest sense.
At Milestone Leadership, I have the opportunity to coach, train and mentor many great leaders from industries and organizations all over the country. One conversation we frequently have is about legacy. You see, for many, legacy means to them what people will say about them when they have passed, or what they might have written on their tombstone. It is a very normal but self-focused perspective when you think about it. For these leaders, I try to reframe that perspective.
In light of --and in honor of Uncle Bob--I would also like to maybe reframe the concept of "legacy" for you.
Legacy is not living so people will "say" great things about you at your memorial. Legacy is living and impacting lives in a way that extends well beyond the span of your own life. Legacy is happening now and always. It is in real time and occurs in every choice. Legacy is not about what people will “say” about you, nor is it just your physical offspring; it is about how they feel or what they DO because of you. Legacy, therefore, lives beyond your physical existence, whether good or bad.
With that reframing, I want to tell you about Uncle Bob's legacy.
- I am better at family because of Uncle Bob.
- I am a more loyal person because of Uncle Bob.
- I am a harder worker because of Uncle Bob.
- I have a better perspective on what excellence looks like because of Uncle Bob.
- I know how to better show unconditional love because of Uncle Bob.
- I know what it looks like when someone takes what is already great within himself or herself and allows personal transformation meant even more for the sake of others.
See you soon Uncle!